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The wonderous gift of love is to be shared

July 21, 2012
The Inter-Mountain

By the Rev. Alicia

Randolph Rapking

Parish House Director

When I last wrote, I began a series of reflections on the three rules for living which John Wesley, founding ancestor of the Methodist movement, encouraged. The three rules include: 1. Do no harm; 2. Do Good; and 3. Attend to the ordinances of the God or, as it has been updated, stay in love with God. So for this article, I should be reflecting on the first rule - do no harm. But I am not. Something else is a little more important.

We have all been through an experience and I would like to take this opportunity to offer thanks to God for bringing us through the power outage ordeal, for helping us to be resourceful, for offering guidance and wisdom to staff of Office of Emergency Management to work so tirelessly to bring us back to normalcy, to the many workers from numerous power companies who worked in sweltering heat in order to restore power. During this time so many people went above and beyond the call of duty - from those who opened fire stations, churches and space at West Virginia Wesleyan College, to those who came to my rescue to help plan and cook meals to serve to people who had no way of preparing a nutritious meal for families, to the many, many people who donated food to help replenish the shelves at Crosslines/Parish House.

This disaster experience was hard on the nerves and our tempers grew short, but the stories of neighbor helping neighbor will help us soon forget the negative feelings that we had and help us remember the positive that came from this trying time. There are so many, many people to thank that I cannot begin to name everyone, so I won't; but I am thankful to God for all the people who helped out our neighbors and helped to make a difficult situation bearable.

As I write this article I am reminded of a hymn that we sing often around Thanksgiving - "Now Thank We All Our God." A German pastor, Martin Rinkart, who lived during the horrible Thirty Years War, wrote the hymn. During this war there were also famine and the plague. Rinkart conducted thousands of funerals during this time because so many people died from illness and starvation. At one point he was conducting 50 funerals a day. One of those funerals was that of his wife. Imagine the despair of his life during this time. Imagine the doubt and questioning that must have been a part of his daily thoughts. Imagine the fatigue and weariness that he must have experienced. Those were dark times.

Yet, it was from this horrible time that Rinkart wrote the words that encouraged the singer to thank God with heart and hands and voice because God has given a "wondrous gift of love" and the whole world rejoices. How could someone experiencing such difficult times write such beautiful and positive words? He wrote the words to remind himself and others that putting our faith in the things of earth fails, but faith in our God will not fail.

On the Friday evening that the storm hit, almost without warning, we discovered again that we cannot always count on what we expect to be normal from day to day. We did discover that we could count on the faithfulness of those who sacrifice comfort, who offer a helping hand, who offer water and food and shelter, who offer a listening ear and all of these actions are gifts from God - wondrous gifts of love.

May we all strive to be the wondrous gift of love that God is offering to someone in need as we try to lend a helping hand or a listening ear wherever we can.

Next week we pick up our reflections of the three rules.

To God be the Glory.

On the parish calendar:

Relief efforts continue for people affected by the derecho on June 29.

Work team from Suncrest United Methodist Church in Morgantown arrives July 22 to work on Hall Neighbor House

Installation service for DS Mary Ellen Finnegan, 3 p.m. July 22, Chapel Hill United Methodist Church

Vacation Bible School, 6:30 - 8 p.m., July 2327, First Baptist Church

United Methodist Women School of Christian Mission, July 2628, WVWC

Relay For Life, 7 p.m., July 27 to 7 a.m., Saturday, July 28, Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School.



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